Final countdown begins for 2012 Paralympics

Organisers of next year’s London 2012 Paralympics have released full details of the competition schedule for all 20 sports.

The details were released as the organising committee prepared to pass a key milestone in its preparations for London 2012: one year to go until the opening ceremony on 29 August 2012.

Ticket prices were also confirmed at the same time as full details for the 10 days of competition, including the dates and times for more than 300 sessions across the 20 sports in 20 venues.

Track and field athletics will start on 31 August and finish on 8 September, with the marathon taking place the following day, 9 September, the same day as the closing ceremony.

Track cycling will take place between 30 August and 2 September, with swimming from 30 August to 8 September.

Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said: “Our elite athletes will captivate billions around the world, will inspire millions and ultimately lead to societal change and help alter perceptions of what can be achieved by a person with an impairment.

“These are a games not to be missed and the announcement of the competition schedule, together with International Paralympic Day [in Trafalgar Square] on 8 September, act as two steps closer to the opening ceremony of the games next year.”

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of ParalympicsGB, which manages Britain’s Paralympians, said: “Knowing that the schedule is out makes it all the more real.

“We are working hard with the sports and athletes to make every one of the last 369 days count, as everyone is determined to produce their lifetime best performances on home soil.

“We hope that people will use the schedule to plan their trip so that they can get behind the ParalympicsGB team and cheer us on.”

The highest ticket prices will be for athletics sessions in the main Olympic stadium, track cycling in the Velodrome and swimming in the Aquatics Centre, likely to be the three most popular sports among spectators.

Tickets for athletics, swimming and track cycling sessions that include medal-deciding finals range from £5 for concessions to £45 for the most expensive tickets.

Tickets for the archery, equestrian events, rowing, shooting and road cycling are just £10, with concessions also available.

Most tickets for 5-a-side and 7-a-side football will be £15, as will most of those for wheelchair basketball, boccia, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, table-tennis, sitting volleyball, wheelchair fencing, goalball, judo and powerlifting, again with concessions available.

Sailing in Weymouth and Portland, Dorset, will be a free, non-ticketed event.

Prices for the opening and closing ceremonies are much higher than for any of the sports events. Tickets for the opening ceremony on 29 August 2012 range from £20.12 up to £500, with closing ceremony tickets as high as £350.

Tickets will be on sale from 9am on 9 September 2011.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

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Ruling means questions remain over police treatment of disabled protesters

Serious questions remain over how the police treat disabled protesters, after an independent watchdog ruled that an officer used “excessive” force in dragging an activist across a road and away from his wheelchair.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) partially upheld an appeal lodged by disabled activist Jody McIntyre over the treatment he received in two separate incidents in Westminster during last December’s student tuition fees demonstrations.

McIntyre had appealed after an internal Metropolitan police investigation concluded that the actions of its officers were “justifiable in the circumstances”.

The IPCC said it could not prove whether a Metropolitan police officer tipped McIntyre from his wheelchair, after failing to move him while he was sitting in it, but that it was clear that he had used “excessive force” when he then dragged him across the road.

The IPCC concluded that although the officer could justify attempting to move McIntyre to a “safer location”, he did not need to drag him across the road.

The IPCC added: “The evidence indicated that the officer had the option of returning Mr McIntyre to his wheelchair, because Mr McIntyre’s brother moved it towards the officer for this purpose.”

The incident was filmed on a mobile phone and has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people on the internet.

Although the IPCC said the officer’s conduct should have been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider a criminal charge of common assault, the six-month time limit for such action had expired by the time McIntyre lodged his appeal.

The results of the Met’s internal investigation into the two incidents had been announced just days before the six months expired.

McIntyre told Disability News Service that the IPCC seemed to believe that “pushing a disabled man out of his wheelchair is acceptable”.

He said: “For disabled groups, that would be the most shocking element of the story, that the police now have the power to push you out of your wheelchair onto the floor.”

He said the IPCC had delivered a “partial confirmation of what I already knew – that the police seriously mistreated me on the demo”.

But he questioned why the Met had been allowed to drag out its internal investigation to ensure its officer could not be prosecuted.

He said: “When young people riot in the streets, the courts are open 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week in order to prosecute them, but the police couldn’t meet a time limit of six months to prosecute their own officer.”

The IPCC concluded that the officer’s conduct had “fallen below the standards of professional behaviour and should be subject to management action”.

It also concluded that the force owed McIntyre an “apology” for an earlier incident in which another officer had struck him with a baton.

But McIntyre said an apology would be “completely inadequate”, and added: “If I assaulted someone, I am sure they would be expecting more than an apology.”

He is now considering civil legal action against the Met and individual officers.

The Met has so far failed to comment on whether it needs a policy on how to treat wheelchair-users in “public order” situations.

Earlier this year, the force admitted it had no such policy in place, with disabled people instead “dealt with on a case by case basis”.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

New access guide to Barking and Dagenham goes live!

DisabledGo

Barking and Dagenham Council has joined online access guide www.disabledgo.com to provide a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to know more about disabled access in the area.

‘The guide to Barking and Dagenham’ covers over 1,000 venues including cinemas, hotels, parks, leisure centres, council offices, high street stores, restaurants, tourist attractions – the list goes on and on.

The guide, which launched on Friday 15th July will enable people to find out whether venues have adapted toilets or parking close by but also specific details such as whether there are tactile or Braille markings in lifts or on doors, the dimensions of toilets, the positioning of fixtures and fittings and whether they can request information in large print or Braille.

Councillor Linda Reason, Barking and Dagenham Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Services said:

‘I am delighted that working together with DisabledGo who employed local disabled residents to help produce the guide, have been able to produce this new guide to local shops, leisure facilities and public buildings.  It provides answers to everyday questions that will help disabled people use local facilities with confidence and showcases how well local businesses support the needs of the whole community.’

Commenting on the launch of the DisabledGo-Barking and Dagenham guide, Dr Gregory Burke, Chief Executive of DisabledGo said;

‘I would like to thoroughly commend Barking and Dagenham’s vision and commitment to this project. It will make a real difference to both residents and visitors to the Borough who have access concerns, empowering them to find services and venues that suit their own specific requirements.’

The online guide will provide benefits for business too, helping them reach more customers by publicising the access they offer. Current figures estimate that there are 11 million disabled people in Britain who spend £80 billion each year, numbers that every business should take notice of. All businesses that take part also receive Disability Awareness Manuals, designed as a 20 minute introduction to disability and access.

Not only will the information be available on www.disabledgo.com but dedicated London website www.myaccesslondon.com covering access to leisure and tourist attractions across the capital.

All of the information provided on DisabledGo Barking and Dagenham will also be available on the ‘Looking Local’ service on the red button on your TV, so if you don’t have access to a computer at home you can still get the information you need.

If you would like more information about DisabledGo or DisabledGo Barking and Dagenham please contact Tom Felton, Partnership Administrator (E: tom.felton@disabledgo.com T: 01438 842710).

DisabledGo launches pioneering disabled access guide to Manchester Airport

DisabledGo has launched a pioneering new access guide to one of the UK’s busiest airports, providing disabled customers with all the information required to plan their journey with confidence.

The new guide takes visitors to the airport through their journey; from the car park to their departure lounge if they are flying from Manchester, or alternatively from arrivals through to the car park if Manchester is their final destination. Every piece of information on the airport guide has been collected in person by a trained DisabledGo surveyor. The information includes everything from details of the fixtures and fittings in accessible toilets, to hearing assistance systems, lighting levels and the dimensions of parking bays.

Speaking about the development of the guide Dr Gregory Burke, Chief Executive of DisabledGo said: “We are delighted to have worked in partnership on this pioneering project. It has been clear throughout the whole process that Manchester Airport is committed to providing the best possible service to disabled travellers and recognises that disabled people are a much ignored market. As a wheelchair user and a frequent flyer I know how incredibly stressful air travel can often be. This guide will be a step-change in making every journey better for disabled people and anyone else. All credit to Manchester Airport.”

Manchester Airport

Andrew Harrison, Manchester Airport’s Managing Director, said: “I am delighted that we are the first airport to have helped create a DisabledGo guide. We want to make every customer’s journey stress free so this World-first guide is just another way of us helping take away the worry for passengers with reduced mobility. By launching this guide in the summer season, I am confident that passengers will find it useful in navigating their way around the airport.”

The guide can be accessed free of charge on DisabledGo’s website www.disabledgo.com simply type in ‘Manchester Airport’ in to the search box on the homepage. The guide will also be available on www.manchesterairport.co.uk. The information is easily searchable by using a range of icons and is complemented by interactive 3D maps of the Airport site.

If you would like any further information about the DisabledGo-Manchester Airport guide or about DisabledGo in general please contact Rachel Felton, External Relations Manager by telephone on 01438 842710 or email rachel.felton@disabledgo.com

DisabledGo in attendance as Naidex takes the south by storm!

For the second year running DisabledGo will have a stand at Naidex South. The event will take place on 19th-20th October at ExCeL London, a fully accessible Paralympic venue. Anyone can come along and visit DisabledGo on stand E35, by registering for free attendance at www.naidex.co.uk/south.

Building on the successful launch of Naidex South last year which exceeded all expectations, the organisers are busy adding to this year’s show programme to further improve the fantastic London event.

Exciting new features have been added to this year’s Naidex South, including the Independent Living Show Home where visitors can see the best in inclusive design, new technology and products demonstrated in a realistic setting. There will also be a Meet the Expert zone providing a unique, free service designed to answer your questions and offer invaluable advice via a drop in facility.

Come October, the 2012 Paralympics will be less than 9 months away, so the organisers of Naidex South will be including various features related to this global sporting event. One such feature is the Paralympic Showcase, which will celebrate the talents of disabled athletes and encourage visitors to get involved in sports on the day, also offering information on local clubs they can contact after the show.

You will still be able to enjoy Naidex favourites such as the Communication and Learning Village, designed to house the latest technological advancements and the Car Zone, which will have many of the UK’s leading vehicle converters exhibiting the latest WAV developments. Meet the OT is also returning and as usual healthcare professionals are invited to attend the comprehensive free CPD Naidex Conference programme. KideQuip, the must see zone dedicated to children with special needs, is another firm favourite.

Naidex South 2011 is shaping up to be an unmissable event, so put October 19th-20th in your diaries and come and say hello to the DisabledGo team on stand E35. To ensure you don’t miss out, Register for free entry at www.naidex.co.uk/south

New work support rules ‘forcing PAs to seek minicab licences’

New government guidance will make it even harder for disabled people to use a key employment support scheme to find and keep work, according to a new report.

The Essex-based disabled people’s organisation ecdp compiled the report after being contacted by several disabled people concerned by the new restrictions on Access to Work (ATW) funding.

It is only the latest concern to be raised about tighter Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) restrictions on ATW, imposed despite coalition claims that its controversial welfare reforms are aimed at supporting disabled people off benefits and into work.

Government figures released last month showed a dramatic slump in the number of “new customers” helped by ATW, from 16,520 to 13,240 in 2010-11.

The new DWP guidance, introduced on 1 August, means that disabled people who are driven to and from work by their personal assistant (PA) will no longer be able to claim ATW funding for that travel if they are being driven in their PA’s car.

Instead, they will have to insure the PA to drive their own car – if they have one – or a company car.

The most likely solution would be to use taxis, which would reduce the level of choice and control they have over how they travel.

Another option being suggested by some ATW advisers to disabled people is for the PA to apply for a minicab licence from their local authority.

The estimated extra cost in ATW payments for one of the ecdp members who has raised concerns about the new rules could be at least £300 a week, if they use taxis, or thousands of pounds a year if their PA tries to register as a minicab driver.

The ATW rules also appear to clash with new Department for Transport (DfT) guidance on private hire vehicle licensing, which strongly suggests that PAs do not need to obtain a licence.

An ecdp spokeswoman said the DfT guidance seems to “directly contradict” the new ATW rules, while local authorities who have been contacted so far have stated there is no need for PAs to obtain a minicab licence.

She said some ATW advisers “appear to have underestimated the cost of securing a licence and overlooked some of the hidden costs within this”.

Mike Adams, ecdp’s chief executive, said: “This red tape means that disabled people, and their staff, will have to jump through extra bureaucratic hoops just to carry on working.

“The potential cost for disabled people and to the public purse could be significant.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We have made these changes to comply with the law. Disabled people will still get the support they need with the additional costs of travel to work.”

But a DfT spokeswoman said its guidance stresses that “responsibility for making decisions” on whether a vehicle requires a private hire vehicle licence “rests with local authorities” and “would depend on the facts of each case”.

Asked whether DfT was discussing with DWP the problems that have arisen with the two sets of apparently contradictory guidance, she added: “I do not believe we are talking to them at the moment.”

18 August 2011

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

DisabledGo-Hampshire local surveyor takes the plunge!

On the 12th August, Iain Speed, Managing Director of All Inclusive and more recently a local surveyor for DisabledGo took part in an abseil down the Spinnaker Tower in Gun Wharf, Portsmouth. Iain who has Cerebral Palsy did the abseil to raise awareness of local charity Parity for Disability.

Iain has spent the last couple of months working with DisabledGo to produce a 1000 venue access guide to Hampshire. As part of the project DisabledGo employed local people to work alongside their surveyors to help deliver a guide that aims to empower disabled people.

Speaking about his time as a surveyor Iain said;

I’ve had a fantastic time doing the surveying for DisabledGo in Hampshire, it was really interesting and I enjoyed working with Richard Beaty, DisabledGo’s surveying coordinator for Hampshire.

It was surprising to find the difference between really helpful staff and those defensive about answering any questions on access but on the whole attitudes are beginning to change.  Shops and other retailers are making efforts to be as accessible as possible and just as a footnote it seems that all bookies like disabled punters! They all had accessible toilets and easy access.

Iain Speed, All Inclusive

Talking about the abseil Iain said “The buzz was indescribable, from fear at the top, dangling on a rope 300 feet in the air, to exhilaration watching the crowd from a bird’s eye view. I feel the experience encapsulates my Live the Life not the Label© motto. As Managing Director of All Inclusive, this was an opportunity to promote disability inclusion. We, as a Company, strive to participate in the Equality agenda through disability and Cerebral Palsy awareness training www.allinclusivecic.com.”

Iain went on to thank his climbing partner and personal trainer Rich Lucas, and commented “I would like to give a really big thank you to my climbing partner, Rich Lucas, who came down with me. We even had time for a conversation as we descended! The views were immense and the pint of beer was well earned! I’ve raised £380 so far for Parity for Disability, a worthwhile local charity that works with people with complex and multiple disabilities. Rich and I are already working on our next challenge which is climbing Snowdon and we will be doing the abseil down the Spinnaker Tower again this time next year! I may even get some of my team to join me!”

All of the DisabledGo team would like to congratulate Iain on his exceptional achievement and if you would like to donate to a very good cause, go to Iain’s Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/Iain-Speed

If you would like more information about the DisabledGo-Hampshire access guide that Iain has been involved in please contact Rachel Felton, External Relations Manager DisabledGo. Tel: 01438 842710 Email: rachel.felton@disabledgo.com